Saturday, December 11, 2010

Feed Me, Joe! (And Feed Me He Does.)

Damn. I really thought I was gonna convert Joe with that last post. Here's the last part of his reply:

If you're offended by my comparison to slavery, consider this. You are spending lots of other people's money on people who, rather than saying thank you, bitch that they want more, more, more. In doing so, you are teaching not how to fish, rather addicting them to your fish. This you call help. If that's help, I want no part of it.

Oh, Joe.

Joey, Joey, Joey.

You are talking about things you don't really know about firsthand. I am trying to help you see. I am reporting to you from the front lines, as a person equal in drive and intellect to yourself, who has taken the time to wade into the world of human misery and dysfunction firsthand.

Please understand: I know dozens of the people you describe, maybe a hundred, of the perpetually unfit. I know them by their names and faces, and by their medical histories, their family histories. By the luck, good or bad, involved in the conditions and situations of their birth. By their communities, their religions, their education. By their exposure to trauma. By their deepest personal fears, their weaknesses and strengths.

Hear me, O Israel! (I sometimes get grandiose. If you don't like it, read no further. I would NOT blame you in the least).



Or on satellites. Or in fiber-optic cables. Or in regular, old cables.

Or in print.

Or in texts.

Or in tweets.

Or maybe it's in all of them, all at once, day and night, forever and ever.

Maybe it's in the sources of information you choose to trust!

These people you talk about, the ones demanding more, more, more of our hard earned money. Produce one. Just one.

These gripes from the Right come over and over and over, year in and year out, but are based on no discernible facts. Lazy non-workers demanding more, more, more. Show me one. JUST ONE.

There aren't any hordes of whiners, and this is not the whiner's "mental recession" Republicans told us it was that we're living through. A million foreclosed homes didn't start with whining, but they sure ended that way. It might look like a mental recession from the front porch overlooking the eleventh hole fairway in Palm Beach. Hell, not only is it not a recession, it's boom times. Biggest bonus years ever down at the office, in fact.

They are even further away from the people they condescend to than you are, so why trust them? Trust a primary source.

Trust the Gun-Toting Liberal!


But you are right about this: there will always be people stuck on or clinging to public assistance. So I think we should address the exorbitant benefits you imagine they receive as they kick their carefree heels down the sidewalk to their Cadillacs.

Food stamps.
Low-income housing at "section eight" rates of a third of their income.
Disability benefits, a thousand dollars a month perhaps, if they can prove they're truly disabled. The system that is used to identify disability fraud, by the way, should be a balm to every conservative's heart. Obtaining disability benefits is extraordinarily difficult, not that Glenn Beck or Bible Spice will ever know that firsthand. I have personally filled out lots and lots of applications and supporting documentation for people who are most often denied "disabled" status. And so has everyone I know professionally. And the story is always the same.

Plus, they have to prove it every year, their disabilities, with written proof from physicians who, I assure you, have a lot more to protect from the consequences of committing fraud than you or I do. Rush Limbaugh probably hasn't hung out down at the social security office, where the people he despises and the programs he derides as wasteful are on public display each and every day of the week. He ought to. He would know what he was talking about, then.

And so would you.

That's about it. Free emergency telephone service, so they can call 911.

Free membership at the YMCA.

A bus pass. Maybe.

Each one of these sorry folks, these gamers of the system, these diseased beings swindling you out of your hard earned pay, is a financial nuisance. A fly. An ant on an elephant's backside. On the other hand, consider the costs of letting them die slowly in the streets, which, you may argue, is their due. And I don't mean the financial costs, which are negligible in a rich country like ours, I mean the costs to our self-respect as a nation.

Indulge me with this. Look at it my way for a moment: tell me about your job and I will trust your expertise, and listen with great due diligence to your insights about it. I will assume, as an intelligent and interested man, you are capable of achieving proficiency in your chosen field and have done so. Sincerely. I mean it. I acknowledge the likelihood that you are not a blight to society in any way, or a burden to the local constabulary, and so forth. An upright man. A Mensch.

Now, please accord to me the same respect.

I know my job too. As well as you know yours, if we're to be mutually agreeable. And there IS a professional field of people whose job it is to interact directly with precisely the people you describe. And I am in that field, and that field is social work.

I know my job as well as you know yours, if we're to be mutually agreeable.

But wait, no.

Come to think of it, you're right.

I'm sorry, Joe. You're right and I apologize.

There IS a seemingly intractable class of Americans who want more, more, more of our hard-earned money, who are never satisfied no matter how much of it they get, who never say thank you, who are "addicting us to their fish."

And you are RIGHT, Man, they're NOT like you and me. They are not hard-working, individually responsible, morally upright men and women like us.

They're out there, all right.

I'll name them shortly, but first I want to rest for a moment with the observation of a very wise man whose name I do not know, who was right when he described these greedy ungrateful, un-American Americans as having "no soul to save, and no body to incarcerate."




Now here it comes...

The images on your TV are just for show. The sound in your ears is a distraction. The fog, smoke. The real culprit is behind the curtain.

It's big corporations, you #@%&#&$%!

Not all of them. Maybe not even most.

But it is the insatiable greed of the wealthiest people and institutions we have that is killing us, not imaginary Welfare Queens.

Hear me from the front lines! Take my dispatch, Goddamn you!

Again, I know the people you are talking about personally. I bid a good weekend to several of them yesterday. Personally, face to face. And with great sincerity, I may add.

I will not stop trying to help you see, Joe.

I believe in you Joe, and all you other Joes out there.

I will not stop trying.

But this is so much fun, who would want it to stop?

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